The Ridgefield Playhouse is the local theater in Ridgefield, Connecticut. This nonprofit theater has become Ridgefield’s cultural hub presenting a host of events, film showings, plays and concerts.
In the 1940s, the old Ridgefield High School’s auditorium was designed by Cass Gilbert, Jr., the son of Cass Gilbert. Cass Gilbert was the architect who designed the Supreme Court Building and the Woolworth Building. While the auditorium was part of the old high school, it was the site of many school performances, community events and Ridgefield town meetings. During World War II, residents were even able to see Arturo Toscanini, one of the most admired musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, conduct at the auditorium. Unfortunately, however, the auditorium was left abandoned in 1972. Since then, the auditorium has been restored and remodeled into the Ridgefield Playhouse and opened in December 2000 with an opening night performance played by guitarist Jose Feliciano.
The Ridgefield Playhouse makes every effort to present a diverse range of both national and local performing arts to the Ridgefield community that they will be able to experience and appreciate. Sold-out performances have played since the opening including Marcel Marceau, Peter Yarrow, Barbara Cook, Moscow Boys Choir, Joan Baez, The Bacon Brothers, Clink Black, The Doobie Brothers, Brian Wilson, Diana Krall and more.
Locals who come to watch films are also pleasantly offered question and answer sessions with some of the greatest talents in the movie industry including Ron Howard, Harvey Keitel, Tim Robbins and Barry Levinson. Feature and documentary films are both screened for film society events. The town meeting and the Ridgefield High School Orchestra Concert still get to take place in the Ridgefield Playhouse.
There is a children’s series where after school programs and summer camps take place for children to enjoy. Teens can seek guidance in the Arts in Education outreach programs which entail various series that deal with real-life teen issues.
Comedians also visit the theater to keep the Ridgefield locals laughing. Some comedians who have visited include Joan Rivers, Dana Carvey, Martin Short, Jackie Mason and Robert Klein. Motivational speakers also come to inspire the locals, and those speakers have included Ira Glass, David Sedaris and Stephen Sondheim.
All of these acts, films, concerts and more would not have been possible without the incredible help from the community of Ridgefield and more. The restoration process of this theater highlights the sense of community Ridgefield is known for. A Ridgefield couple gifted the theater with the donation of a mural, created by a local artist, that covers the lobby walls with scenes of historic Ridgefield. Other murals decorate the theater and all were gifts from local supporters. The people of the town have invested in The Playhouse. Many have shared funds and others have shared their talents to create an amazing experience all around for the people of Ridgefield to enjoy on a daily basis.